Not everybody wants to wear a sleek, webbed bike helmet like pro riders. For many, that sporty design doesn’t match their brand of everyday biking: running errands, grabbing groceries or cruising around the neighborhood. Gloria Hwang aims to overcome some of the less than convenient aspects of bike safety with Thousand—a new range of retro-inspired helmets that launches today on Kickstarter.
Hwang has early memories of riding bikes up to an old weeping willow tree in her Houston neighborhood, and then in college she found herself fully immersed in bike culture—upgrading to single speeds, geared and fixed-gear bikes while she was a student at the University of Texas. “I also got really into restoring vintage Italian steel bikes during this time,” Hwang tells CH.
Years later, Hwang’s friend was a victim of a tragic bicycle accident. “Before I started Thousand, I had been biking for more than 20 years—and never wore a bike helmet. I’d always make an excuse for why I didn’t wear one. After losing a friend, I realized I needed to change,” she says. “I also thought there are probably a lot of people like me. So I started Thousand to design something that people would actually wanted to wear. I want to help save lives.”
Hwang since spent countless hours researching bike helmet design and manufacturing, and enlisted the talents of industrial designer John Larkin, who specializes in helmet design and is president of Idaho-based Machine Language. “John was incredible passionate about our idea and really understood the specific issues we were trying to address,” Hwang says. “He’s also been designing helmets for over 30 years and has a great understanding of fit and geometry.”
For Thousand helmets, Hwang collected detailed measurements from hundreds of heads, working to ensure that the sizing will fit comfortably for as many people as possible, with a minimum amount of extra padding used in many other helmet designs.
Inspired by horseback riding helmets and vintage motorcycle helmets, the Thousand’s helmet features venting at the top and back for airflow. The design includes a patent-pending PopLock system for a convenient system to lock up the helmet with a bike—so there’s no more carrying around the cumbersome product. Hwang’s own father—a double PhD and former NASA robotics engineer—designed and approved the engineering of the PopLock. “We spent the better part of year 3D-printing and prototyping different options,” says Hwang. “I wanted him bring his engineering experience to the project. It’s a new technology, so he really made sure we were designing something that’d be simple to use, endure wear and tear, and incredibly safe for the rider.”
Launching today, the Thousand Kickstarter campaign reward options include pre-ordering a helmet in carbon black, navy, moonlight white ($75 or more) or the exclusive “Stay Gold” edition, which sells for $90.
Images courtesy of Thousand Bike Helmets